In Chippewa, gi’ziso’muki’ki, goldenrod is a sunny medicinal and edible wild plant. In the past, it was falsely blamed for hayfever allergies, which are actually caused by ragweed. It’s really a medicine to treat allergies! Latin solidare means to join or make whole, and when you come upon the medicinal tags below you’ll see why it’s named such.
Eight goldenrods are listed in Haliburton Flora. They are Canada (solidago canadensis L.), grass-leaved (solidago graminifolia), hairy (solidago hispida), early (solidago juncea), gray (solidago nemoralis), rough-stemmed (solidago rugosa), stout (solidago squarrosa), and bog (solidago uliginosa). Some prefer roadsides and edges. Bog of course prefers damp spaces. Grass leaved goldenrod may be the one you usually see filling meadows around Haliburton.
Edible Uses of Goldenrod
Leaves gathered in spring are a substitute for spinach. The flavor and texture vary by species. The flowers are edible, and make a bright and sunny garnish.
You can also dry the leaves and flowers for tea, although usually it’s “sweet” (solidago odora) goldenrod suggested for that, which wasn’t listed in our local set. Sweet golden rod is often called Blue Mountain Tea. Perhaps you can find some distinctly flavored goldenrod honey to sweeten it with.
The seeds are edible, but they’re more of a survival food. The seeds can be used to thicken stews and gravies.
Medicinal Uses of Goldenrod
Goldenrod is primarily said to support these body systems:
Medicinal tags include Antiallergic, Anticatarrhal, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Carminative, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Expectorant, Stimulant, and Vulnerary. See Medicinal tag key for more information.
Common usage includes to fight chronic asthma and allegeries and as an upper respiratory catarrh to minimize excess mucous. If you need to dry it all up, it’s perfect. If you’re already dried out and need to get it flowing better – look into “mucilage” plants. (It’s subtle differences like this that make me recommend having a qualified herbalist help 1-on-1 with these conditions!)
In the Good Living Guide on pg 189 is the recipe for AllerBgone Tea: 2 Tsp each dried nettle leaf and goldenrod leaf, and 1 tsp each plantain leaf and chamomile flowers. The tea may stimulate the immune system and strengthen allergy defenses at beginning of hayfever season. Goldenrod contains quercetin which is an anti-inflammatory and can be found commercially, usually made from European goldenrod (solidago virgaurea).
Sometimes goldenrod is called woundwort. Externally the leaves and flowers are used in poultices, ointments and baths for wounds, bruises, ulcers, boils, eczema and slow healing wounds. It’s also another handy spit poultice for insect bites. Since it’s antifungal, it could be tried for athletes foot, nail fungus, yeast infections, and thrush.
Colic, toothaches, kidney stones, etc… there are many more uses of goldenrod. The genus name means “to make whole” and its many uses reflect that.
Alternative Uses of Woundwort
The leaves and flowers can be used to make a yellow dye. More specifically, the flowers produce a yellow dye with alum as the mordant and gold with chrome as the mordant.
Growing Sun Medicine
This plant thrives in our area. Come September, there’s goldenrod and asters everywhere! They self planted themselves on the edge of my bee and butterfly garden, taming my tansy which otherwise might have taken over. They are easy to transplant but even easier- just stop mowing most of your yard. The pollinators will be pleased.
Avoid if allergic to other plants in the aster family.
And the Usual Cautions:
1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.
2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.
3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored. Herbalists do not have an official certification yet, but that may be in the works.
4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.
5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.